Sunday, June 8, 2008

Presidential Race Projection: June 9 Edition

I'm going to use a few more categories than the standard "Solid/Lean/Tossup" breakdown. I'm adding "lock" for a drop-dead 100% sure bet, and "likely" in between solid and lean. (Note: Nebraska divides its electoral votes by CD, with 2 going to the state winner)

Obama Lock - DC (3), HI (4), IL (21), MD (10), MA (12), NY (31), RI (4), VT (3) - 88EV
McCain Lock - ID (4), NE-3rd (1), TN (11), OK (7), UT (5), WY (3) - 31EV

Obama Solid - CA (55), CT (7), DE (3), ME (4), MN (10), WA (11), WI (10) - 100EV, cum. 188EV
McCain Solid - AL (9), LA (9), NE-AL (2), KS (6), KY (6), SD (3), WV (5) - 42EV, cum. 73EV

Obama Lean - CO (9), MI (17), NJ (15), NH (4), OR (7), PA (21) - 73EV, cum. 251EV
McCain Lean - AK (3), AR (6), AZ (10), GA (15), FL (27), IN (11), MS (6), MT (3), ND (3), NE-1st (1), NE-2nd (1), SC (8), TX (34) - 128EV, cum. 201EV

Tossup - IA (7), OH (20), MO (11), NC (15), NV (5), NM (5), VA (13) - 76 EV

What's obvious here is that Obama is in a lot better shape than McCain. "Serious" people have suggested that he may win any of the states in the "McCain lean" column, including Texas, Alaska, North Dakota, and Mississippi, none of which would generally be considered "Swing states", but certainly should be considered as such this election. McCain certainly has a shot at the Obama lean states, but there are a lot fewer in that category. Most are at least "Solid", which means it would take significant effort, luck, and national swing for McCain to win them.

As far as strategy suggested by this setup, we have the following:
1) If Obama wins Texas or Florida, he definitely wins. The punditry generally look at Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania as "key battleground" states, with Florida generally included as well. However, even if Obama lost 2 of MI OH PA, Texas or Florida would likely ensure he had enough EV to win.

2) McCain needs a base. The general Republican bases are in the west and the south. In the south, evangelical dislike of McCain plus an expected huge black turnout makes a lot of states possibly competitive. In the west, Obama has very strong popularity, and the Democratic party overall is on the rise. McCain has no shot unless he can establish early (before the conventions) that either Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Arkansas are safe (and FL NC VA are lean McCain); or that Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are safe (and CO NM NV are lean McCain). Texas, once again, would be useful for either group.

3) McCain and California - As I mentioned above that Obama winning FL or TX would make things very easy, McCain could probably do the same thing in California. The state is probably the friendliest of the "Solid Obama" states to McCain. It's also the only way he could win if he lost MI PA OH.

4) GOP VP selection - I see three possible paths to victory for McCain. Strategy 1 involves focusing on the 55 EV of California as much as possible. Schwarzenegger would be the obvious VP choice, even though it might not help; but he's not eligible; maybe something like Carly Fiorina. Strategy 2 is the 58 EV of MI OH PA. Here, there once again aren't any governors or senators of note (Voinovich is unlikely), and I doubt Rob Portman is going to get consideration; maybe Mitt Romney's Michigan connections are the best regional tie he could get. Strategy 3 is the "We're tough and macho and Obama is an evil wimp that will surrender to the terrorists", and that can take virtually anyone, though Joe Lieberman would probably be the most likely candidate for that strength.

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